Sunday, December 17, 2017

Modifying & Adapting The TSR UK4 'When a Star Falls' By Graeme Morris Adventure For Your OSR Campaigns

"The power of prophecy is given to few. Wise are they who guard this gift well, for those who thirst after such knowledge are not always men of principle.

Bastion of destiny, the Tower of the Heavens stands silhouetted against the star-studded night sky. From within his darkened observatory, perched like an eyrie on the highest turret, a figure in white charts the course of a shooting-star as it disappears behind the snow-capped peaks of the Tegefed mountains. The old man smiles grimly to himself; the event foretold has come to pass!

Power, glory, riches - it takes years to acquire them. The uncanny accuracy of their predictions has brought all these and more to the sages of the Tower of the Heavens. But what is hard to win is often easier to lose, and the future of the tower now hangs in the balance."

Graeme Morris' work continues on in U.K. TSR tradition with UK4: "When a Star Falls" (1984) & its an old favorite adventure. And this one I got a chance to play back in the 90's at the Orc's Nest in London. Bring about six players for this one because When A Star Fall has a bit of reputation with me. I've lost PC's in this adventure. This one features on thing that resonates with the TSR U.K. tradition they're heavy on plot, pacing, & extremely deadly on weird adventure devices in that put the PC front & center into the action.
I'm talking here about the memory web that introduces & roils PC's into the adventure's plot. This adventure has a well deserved gritty and interesting reputation even while it offers some unique adventure opportunities.
I love the artwork in 'When A Star Falls' it echoes that early Eighties experimentalism phase of early TSR U.K. product & has its roots deep in early White Dwarf magazine artwork too.
U.K. 4 'When A Star Falls' is a classic British mid PC tier romp with all of the deadliness that statement implies.
Machinations among the major NPC's makes this adventure have a very Celtic other world mythology & legendary  tapestry to it.The star isn't simply a quest but a journey of adventure woven around the writing of Graeme Morris. Its some of my favorite of his to date. Once again UK4 'When A Star Falls' features monsters from the Fiend Folio but used in ways & within its encounters that fall well within the purview of the adventure's plot.
UK4 is also decidedly gritty and at points very tense into how it communicates its adventure goals but yet it is neither pushy nor hurried in its execution. A real credit to the writing and design of this module.  The NPC's in this module are fully fleshed out & not at all completely nice & come across as complete jerks. The PC's have their work cut out for them.

UK4 freatures two of my all time favorite Monster Manual II & Fiend Folio monsters in the form of fully fleshed out Derro & 
svirfneblin NPC's, lairs, & completely dangerous encounters. Don't take these places lightly or your PC's corpse will be dangling from the lance of a Derro or worse.  Forget the 'Underdark' folks this is the Celtic or European underworld! This is the place where dungeons lead straight into the underworld & worse lurks just around the next stone column.
Several of the threads running through UK4 fit a dark fantasy Europe making When a Star Falls perfect for setting the action in either a deep part of the Keltic coast of Hyperborea or Dark Albion.

Could UK4 'When A Star Falls' be adapted to a modern retroclone style of campaign? Quite easily and with some style that falls well with some of the modern games. For Labyrinth Lord Advanced this module has all of the bells & whistles ready to go! But for Dark Albion well events of UK4 are going to place this adventure well within Wales or Scotland of Albion's setting with the stirring of the pot taking the forces of chaos straight into the heart of Albion's empire. The events of UK4 could be center stage to some of the Albion events with various royals courting the favors of the NPC's of 'the not Greyhawk' adventure setting. A heavy hand here could get the PC's killed or worse!  Fairyland is going to be wide open with the gates of the underworld raging! There could be war or worse unleashed on the upper world if the PC's don't tread carefully! But there are rich rewards for those who need extra supernatural muscle during the events of the Rose War!

For Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition UK 4 represents a completely different delve into the dungeons & locations of Underborea. This adventure has to be set in the Keltic lands with a flair for the pseudo late Roman empire vibe that echoes through the gritty corridors of UK4. This adventure brings a lot to the table combining Celtic mythology, D&D UK grittiness, & a consistant Sword & Sorcery feel throughout. This is the adventure that sets the tone for a English style dungeon romp heavy on plot & thick with action. Again this is an adventure that needs to take place within its own setting within Hyperborea!  This setting is an isolated & old section of Hyperborea where the monsters of the Fiend Folio & The Monster Manual II are going to roam, romp, & have their way with the lands & the lands below. Don't expect this to be a pleasant visit either, this is a wet, wild, & woolly land where the hand of things older then man have truck with the local Pict shamans & things fall from the sky with destiny plastered all over em!

This brings me as a DM to Lamentations of the Flame Princess & the events of The English Civil War of England Upturn'd again! That's right UK 4 'When A Star Falls' events are going to be taking place in the isolated highlands of 1649 while the occult forces from outside older then man are quietly thumbing their collective noses at the young upstart race known as mankind! The plot offers one or more factions of England Upturn'd more then a simple opportunity but a whole tapestry of weirdness waiting to be exploited perhaps the impending invasion by the Derro of the upper world and more!

Tonight whist doing research for this segment of the blog article I came across this guy whose going to be an NPC Roundhead in my next Lamentations game! Great piece of artwork by John Pettie

In the end of all of this UK 4 When a Star Falls is a classic of the series and a great opportunity for both the DM to really challenge play with the  experienced, jaded , and snobbiest of players. UK4 is a classic adventure with all of the elements built into it so that a DM can have it ready to go for even a large group of players! There's a ton of bang for your buck that When a Star Falls offers.

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